Superfoods

Dates – A Palm fruit with Great Health Benefits

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Dates are the fruit of Date Palm which is originally from the middle east. This fruit is considered a Superfood because of its nutritional values and health benefits. Dates are sweet and can be a perfect replacement for white sugar. This small cylindrical fruit is packed with energy and natural sugars which makes it a perfect snack after a workout. Dates grow in a cluster, which is harvested in the fall and early winter. Normally after harvest, the fruit goes through a drying process which increases its shelf life and makes it more dense and sweet.

History of Dates

Dates are considered as one of the oldest cultivated fruit, some fossils also indicate the presence of date palm as old as 50 million years ago. But the date which we eat today were first cultivated in Mesopotamian region the exact location is still debated among the archaeologist. The scientific name of date is Phoenix dactylifera, which is derived from Greek mythology about a bird that rises from its ash. And dactylifera means finger bearing because of its long cylindrical shape.

The ancient Egyptians were also very fond of dates since its sweet and tasty. Also, it provides instant energy which they need to build massive architecture. It was considered as poor’s cake but was also popular among elites. The date palm was the sign of prosperity, growth and fertility among the ancient Egyptians. The tree of date palm can also be seen in ancient Egyptian paintings and stone carvings.

The Date is also considered holy in the Islamic faith. In Quranic scripture, there is a story in which God instructs Mary to eat dates during labour pain when she gives birth to Jesus. Muslim around the world break their Ramadan fast with date and water. Since Prophet Muhammad used to break his fast with date and water. Also in Judaism, the date palm was a symbol of prosperity and triumph.

Date palm

Nutritional Value

The nutritional value of Dates per 100g serving.

  • Energy – 277 kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 74.97 g
  • Protein – 1.18 g
  • Dietary Fibre – 6.7 g
  • Total Fats – 0.15 g
  • Magnesium – 14% of RDI
  • Manganese – 15% of RDI
  • Iron – 5% of RDI
  • Copper – 18% of RDI
  • Potassium – 20% of RDI
  • Vitamin B6 – 12% of RDI

Health Benefits

1. High in Fibre

Dates are high in fibre, getting enough fibre is important for overall health. Fibre can benefit your digestive system and bowel movement and reduces the chances of constipation and other gastrointestinal ailments.

2. Helps in Promote Natural Labour

Dates have the potential to promote and ease late-term labour in pregnant women. Eating this cylindrical fruit throughout the last week of pregnancy may promote cervical dilation and lower the need for induced labour. It also helps in reducing labour time.

3. High in Disease-Fighting Antioxidants

Dates are high in antioxidants. The Three most potent antioxidants present in dates are Flavonoids, Carotenoids, Phenolic acid. Flavonoids help to reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer. Carotenoids promote heart health and reduce the risk of eye-related illness. Phenolic acid may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

4. Promotes Bone Health

Dates contain several minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. All these minerals have been studied for their potential to prevent bone-related illness like osteoporosis.

5. Helps to Regulate Blood Sugar Level

The Date has the potential to help regulate blood sugar level, due to its low glycemic index, fibres and antioxidants. Thus eating this fruit helps in diabetes management.

6. Very Nutritious

Dates have a good nutrient profile. Since they are dried their calorie content is much higher than most fruits. Most of the calories come from carbohydrates. The remaining from a small amount of protein. Despite its calories, this fruit contains a significant amount of vitamins and mineral in addition to a good amount of fibre.

7. Excellent Natural Sweetener

Dates have a good amount of fructose, which is a natural sugar found in fruits. For this reason, dates are sweet and have a subtle caramel-like flavour. They make a great substitute for white sugar in the recipe due to the nutrients, fibres and antioxidants they provide. You can substitute white sugar with date paste in most of the recipe. The ratio for this is 1:1 that means if a recipe requires 1 cup of sugar so you can substitute it with 1 cup of date paste.

Dates

How to Include Dates to Diet ?

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is sometimes boring and tastes bland. To make it more interesting and healthy you can add dates to it. Add date paste or chop dates it’s up to your presence. Also, you can add some nuts if you like, dates go very well with nuts like almond and walnut.

2. Energy Bars

Dates are sticky in texture which makes them perfect to incorporate in energy bars or snack bars. It also will provide the required sweetness and will make your bar healthier than ever before.

3. Salads

Dates can be added to a salad to give extra texture and sweetness. Also, it can be blended with dressing to make salads more flavourful.

4. Baked Goods

Dates can be a good substitute for white sugar mostly in baked goods. Also, the stickiness of dates gives the required binding to cookie doughs and its caramel-like subtle flavour enhances the overall flavour of cookies.

5. Nut Stuffed Date

Replace the date seed with any nut you like and it will transform this fruit into a healthy snack option. I like to stuff date with roasted almond. Since almond goes very well with it and also it increases the nutrients value of dates which makes it much healthier.

6. Smoothie

Dates are perfect for a smoothie since it gives body, thickness and sweetness to a smoothie and makes it extra healthy. You can choose any seasonal fruit and blend it with dates it’s simple, filling and full of goodness.

Sources

8 Proven Health Benefits of Dates, by Brianna Elliott, RD on March 21, 2018

the history, science, and uses of dates, by Tori Avey on Oct 14, 2018

Also see

All About Figs – Health benefits, Nutrition, Side effects & History

Turmeric – health benefits, medicinal uses, and history


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